I thoroughly enjoyed reading Greg’s take on Why I’m Considering Getting an Apple Watch, more than I enjoyed yet another over-long, under-delivering Apple ‘event’. Part I can understand, as I was listening to the audio stream through my car for a half-hour, but I found this the biggest Apple snoozer I can recall. Let me give you 10 reasons why!
While it is true that
1. What Did We LEARN? – yes I know that every Apple event is at least 50% rehash and fluff, but there was more time spent on ResearchKit (which IS cool) than most companies put into their ENTIRE keynotes! As for the Apple Watch, what we learned was pretty much clarifications of what we knew plus confirmation of prevailing rumors.
2. Smartphone = No More Watch – I always used to wear a watch, and still have a collection in a nice box on my dresser. I haven’t worn one since 2008 and my first Android phone. The problem is I no longer care – and while fashion watches seem to be on the uptick with younger kids, they aren’t the ones with money. Convergence is all about eliminating redundant devices … like a watch. The entire value proposition is counter-intuitive.
3. Battery Life DOES Matter – if you have a device that tracks both sleep and activity, gets at best 18 hours of battery and takes about 2 hours to fully charge, you are automatically prioritizing what doesn’t get tracked.
4. Priced into a Niche – one common thing I read before the event was “if you are asking X, the Apple Watch isn’t for you.” That is true – you need to be an iPhone user, you need to REALLY love watches, and you need a certain level of disposable income (since this is an accessory). That is a fairly large amount of ‘ifs’ for a product – and each one narrows the audience further.
5. Solution Looking for a Problem, Yet Many Problems Unsolved – having an Apple Watch doesn’t really let you leave your phone at home, not that anyone would do that anyway – so it is an add-on. The Apple Watch is redundant, pointless and unnecessary – it duplicates many functions of a device you still have to keep on your body. And as a runner I immediately know I still need my phone for the GPS capability, making the Apple watch nothing more than a fancy Magellan Echo with lousy battery life.
6. When a New Computer Makes My MacBook Air Look Powerful … – since returning to Mac laptops with the ‘Pismo’ Powerbook 15 years ago (after being disappointed with the 540C several years earlier), I have stuck with the Pro line. I stayed away from the standard Macbooks due to the performance compromise – which typically meant getting the cheapest computer but also the worst performance. Last year I finally hopped into the MacBook Air fray with the 11.6″ model, and have been amazed at how well it handles a broad number of tasks including gaming and making music. Only the non-Retina screen (and bezels!) is an issue.
The new MacBook takes a cue from history by being the worst performing portable Mac available. It underperforms the 2014 speed-bump of the 11.6″ MacBook Air by a significant amount, and will likely struggle to play many games that the Air can handle due to less powerful CPU and GPU and compromises to the infrastructure to reduce power usage and heat generation.
Why does this matter? It takes the ‘performance compromise’ to another level. You are $400 above the cheapest computer … but that computer (the 11.6″ Air) is SIGNIFICANTLY more powerful – and only slightly larger. You have to REALLY need that Retina screen or added portability.
7. USB-C – I was right with Apple when they jumped on USB, and when they ditched optical drives. Killing FireWire? Not so much. So USB-C? I am totally loving this … but making it the ONLY port? It means that out of the box the only thing most people can do with the MacBook is charge it. After spending $1300 I need to drop another $20 just to charge my iPhone? Also … ThunderBolt?
8. No Help Seen for the iPad – perhaps this isn’t fair, but justifying an iPad gets harder every day. The price drop to $899 for the MacBook Air – and significant recent speed bump – make it much more attractive and a very reasonable alternative. The new MacBook isn’t the 12″ iPad Pro people were hoping for – nor is it the traditionally low-priced option. But it broadens the choices for someone looking for an ultra-portable device. We can only hope Apple has something significant to show this fall to revive the entire tablet industry.
9. The $79 USB Semi-Solution – I still have a Toshiba Portege 3480CT, which was ultra-compact in 2001 when released, but required an external port replicator for pretty much any connections. Apple’s $79 USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter is pretty much the same thing … and since I offers just one USB port and an HDMI port (as well as a pass-thru USB-C), it is still likely many users will be daisy-chaining port replicators.
As for the ‘Semi-Solution’ … Apple has spent the last four years implementing Thunderbolt in their products and coaxing vendors to make products to support the port. And just as Thunderbolt 2 seems to be taking off – gone. You cannot get a USB-C to Thunderbolt 2 adapter, nor any other way to use your existing devices. And since USB-C seems to do what the company wanted with Lightning … I wouldn’t be surprised to see THAT go away this fall.
10. The Apple TV non-Update – Apple TV hasn’t seen an update since before Chromecast, Fire TV and PS Vita TV even existed! It is a good product, but … compared to Roku/Amazon/Google/Sony it is (still) overpriced, underpowered, has less content, is harder to use searching for content, and is a no-show for gaming. What we got – a price cut and a single 90-day exclusive channel – is a reminder of how woefully out of date Apple TV is.